Date Night · for free · Free Fun · Holidays · Valentines Day

20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas

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With Valentines Day just a couple weeks away my husband and I started brainstorming some free date night ideas.  Valentines Day does not always have to be celebrated with an expensive dinner and fancy date.  There is no price tag on quality time spent with the one you love very most.

If you are still looking for a budget friendly gift idea for your significant other check out my list of 10 gifts all under $10 for HIM here and my list of 10 gifts under $10 for HER here.

And now our list of 20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas.

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  1. Candlelight Picnic:  Set up a candlelight picnic dinner at home.  Put a blanket on the floor with a few candles set around the room.  Cook your loves favorite dinner and enjoy talking over candlelight.
  2. Night Drive and Star Gazing:  Go on a long drive just the two of you.  Drive to somewhere secluded and wrap up in a blanket together and enjoy some star gazing.
  3. Netflix and Chill:  Set up some blankets and pillows in front of the TV.  Snuggle together while watching your favorite Netflix shows.
  4. Game Night:  Pop some popcorn, get out your favorite snacks and crack open a few games.  Let your flirty and friendly banter come out and enjoy a fun game night together just the two of you.
  5. At Home Star Gazing:  String up come Christmas lights on your back porch, get out a few blankets and snuggle together outside watching the stars and catching up.
  6. Stroll through Memory Lane:  Get out old pictures and letters you may have written to each other.  Reminisce about your first dates and talk about how special your love story.
  7. Cook Dinner Together:  Turn on some music and enjoy each others company cooking dinner together.  Light some candles in the kitchen to help set the mood.
  8. Couple Questions:  Google a list of couple questions to ask each other.  See how well you already know each other and enjoy learning new details about your lover.
  9. Roast Smores at Home:  Roast marshmallows over the stove and make smores.  Add peanut butter or nutella to make a gourmet smore.
  10. Dessert Iron Chef:  Play an at home version of Iron Chef.  Pick a few “secret ingredients” that you both have to use in your dessert concoction.  Take turns judging each others desserts.
  11. Snowy Walk:  Bundle up and take a walk together in the snow.  Try to explore a new trail or area you have never been before and enjoy the winter beauty together.
  12. Comedy Night:  Have an at home comedy night.  Grab your favorite snacks and search you tube for funny videos or watch a comedian on Netflix, our favorite is always Jim Gaffigan.
  13. Window Shopping:  Go window shopping together.  Pick out funny items for each other to try on.  See who can find the funniest outfit.
  14. Photo Scavenger Hunt:  Find a photo scavenger hunt list on Pinterest.   Take selfies together around town while trying to complete your scavenger hunt.
  15. Fondue Night:  Have a fondue night at home by melting chocolate chips in the microwave.  Enjoy good conversation together while dipping fruit and marshmallows in the chocolate.
  16. Heads or Tails Drive:  Pack a picnic dinner.  Go for a drive using a coin to find your destination.  At every intersection flip the coin turn right if it’s heads and left if it’s tails.  Do this for 10-20 intersections and then enjoy eating the picnic together at whatever the destination ends up being.
  17. Paint Night:  Whip out the paints and a canvases.  Enjoy talking to each other while painting your individual masterpieces.
  18. Video Games:  Play a few Wii games together or pull out the old school Mario Bros.  Let your competitive sides show with friendly banter and laughs.
  19. Sledding and Hot Chocolate:  Let your inner child show and go sledding together.  End the night back home snuggling next to the fire while sipping hot chocolate.
  20. Health Night:  Do a couples yoga together.  Afterwards prepare a healthy dinner together and enjoy each others company while focusing on your health.

I hope that whatever you end up doing your valentines day will be shared with that special person in your life!

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For the kids · Free Fun · Good Ideas · Parenting · Recipes

Our Favorite Play dough Recipe

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Making a batch of play dough with my kids is one of my favorite things.  It is a quick, and easy activity and the kids love getting to help make it.

I have tried a lot of play dough recipes over the years, and I mean A LOT!  My friend shared a recipe with me a few years ago and it instantly became my favorite.  I haven’t looked back since.  This recipe is so easy!  You probably already have all of the ingredients on hand and will be able to whip it together in 15 minutes.

First, mix 1 cup water, 2 TBSP oil and a few drops of food coloring together in a pot over medium heat.  My preschooler always gets to choose the color and today he chose green.  Picking the color is probably his favorite part!  🙂

 

Next, add 1 cup flour, 1/2 cup salt and 1 tsp cream of tartar.  Stir this continually while heating.

 

Keep stirring until the play dough begins to form a ball.

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It doesn’t look pretty right now, but I promise, it will!  Take it out of the pan and begin kneading with your hands.  It might be hot right at first, it cools down fairly fast.

 

It only takes a few minutes of kneading until it is ready for your kids to cut into!

 

All that’s left to do is pull out all your cookie cutters and silverware and enjoy a fun frugal afternoon playing with your sweet kids!

I usually store this in my fridge for a few weeks and it keeps great!

 

Bargain Buys · Frugal Life · Holidays · Valentines Day

10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. ”

After brainstorming gift ideas for the man in your life, (you can find that post here) I decided to take a look at some awesome yet budget friendly gift ideas for the woman in your life.  Or, if you’re like me you can try to find a sneaky way to drop these ideas as hints for what you WANT the man in your life to buy you.  🙂

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I have been wanting to try this Facial Sponge with Activated Bamboo Charcoa for a while now.  It is all natural and the reviews sound amazing and claim it is really beneficial at clearing up skin.  I also really love that it is guaranteed, if you don’t like it you can return it for a full refund.  It is only $6.74!

MY Konjac Sponge All Natural Korean Facial Sponge with Activated Bamboo Charcoa

Why not treat your special lady to a nice massage using this Lavender Essential Oil.  It is my favorite smell!  I love diffusing it in the evening to help me relax or putting a few drops in my bath.  Right now the oil is just $7.49.

Plant Therapy Lavender Essential Oil. 100% Pure, Undiluted, Therapeutic Grade. 10 ml (1/3 oz).

I love receiving perfume for gifts.  It’s a luxury I rarely buy for myself, but absolutely love when someone gifts me some.  Jovan White Musk Perfume is a nice light, clean and beautiful smell.  It’s hard to go wrong with this gift, AND it’s only $8.82!

Jovan White Musk By Jovan For Women, Cologne Spray, 3.25-Ounce Bottle

If your woman loves to read you must get her the book; Life of Pi.  It is so well written and one of my favorite books.  I could read it again and again.  You can get the paperback for $8.49 and I consider that a steal!

I have been wanting a phone grip for a while.  I seem to have a bad habit of dropping my phone, this phone grip helps you have a more secure hold on your phone.  It is only $9.99 and they have a variety of great colors to choose from!

PopSockets: Collapsible Grip & Stand for Phones and Tablets - White

–A good chunky beanie is really trendy right now.  I love the extra cute slouch touch that  the Slouchy Cable Knit Cuff Beanie has.  This beanie is only $8.95.

Brook + Bay Slouchy Cable Knit Cuff Beanie - Stay Warm & Stylish - Chunky, Oversized Slouch Beanie Hats for Women & Men - Serious Beanies for Serious Style

What better way to pamper your loved one than with this Cocoa Butter Body Cream.  It smells great and is the perfect consistency of soft and creamy!  It is only $5.18!

NIVEA Cocoa Butter Body Cream 15.5 oz

Farmhouse decor is all the rage right now.  I loved this little blue lantern.  It is only $4.59 and would be a cute addition to any home.

Kate Aspen, Distressed Metal Vintage Decorative Mini Lantern, Centerpiece, Party Favor, 2.5 x 2.5 x 6.5, Blue

I love having notebooks and journals to keep my thoughts in.  This is a beautiful floral journal and only $8.78.

This is a great quality Manicure/Pedicure Kit.  The kit contains 12 nail care pieces, plus a case making it perfect for traveling and storing.  It is a steal at just $7.45.

Manicure Pedicure Set Nail Clippers - 10 Piece Stainless Steel Manicure Kit - tools for nail, Cutter Kits -Perfect gift for women, men Includes Cuticle Remover with Portable Travel Case

I hope you found something your lady (or yourself!) will LOVE.  Finding great buys for a good price is my favorite type of shopping!

If you still need some help planning a special date night for your Valentine take a look at my post 20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas for a little inspiration.

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You might be interested in my other gift guides:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

Finances · Frugal Life · Money Educatioin · Parenting

Small changes in your lunch habits can make big changes in your wallet

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Finding ways to save money in your budget doesn’t always have to be a big change.  Sometimes all it takes is small consistent new habits to make a big difference.

We decided that instead of having my husband go out to eat lunch with his coworkers every day we would instead pack him a lunch to take.  We usually put in leftovers from dinner and some fruit or a salad.  I added up how much this saved us over a year.  I estimated we  spend about $3 a day on the lunch he takes to work.  He works approximately 250 days out of the year making it $750 spending on lunch.  If he were to go out to eat with his coworkers we estimated he would spend about $7 a day making it $1,750 a year for lunch.  So, just by packing a lunch for work we are saving $1,000 a year!  Think about this savings in long term value.  In 5 years we have saved $5,000.  In 10 years we have saved $10,000!  The savings over time is huge!

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If you have school aged kids you can also save a large amount of money if you pack them a lunch instead of having them buy a hot lunch at school.  I spend about $1 per kid for each lunch I pack them.  I have two school aged kids so that comes to spending $80 a year on school lunches for them.  If I were to buy a hot school lunch the total yearly cost would be $220 a year.  So by packing them a lunch we are saving $140 a year.  This isn’t a huge amount, but every single dollar makes a difference when you are on a budget.

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These are our two easy secrets that have saved us over a $1,000 a year.  By the time all of my kids will have graduated from high school it will be over a $15,000 savings!  What lunch money saving secrets do you have?

Amazon · Bargain Buys · Valentines Day

10 Valentines gifts for him under $10!

“We are a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.”

Do you have Valentines Day plans?  You don’t need to spend a lot of money to make the day feel special.  Check out my post about 20 FREE Valentine Date Ideas for some inspiration on planning a fun and romantic valentines date while on a budget.

I LOVE Valentines Day.  It is so fun to spend a day showing the people I love most how much I care for them.  I started browsing last night for Valentine Gifts for my husband.  I knew I wanted to get him something he would LOVE, but I also wanted to make sure we would be able to stay in budget with the gift.  I made a list of ten GREAT Valentine gifts for him, and ALL of them are under ten bucks!  That’s my type of shopping!

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My husband seems to never have enough flashlights.  He loves having them in all shapes and sizes.  I loved the design of this LED flashlight.  The  Flex-Head Flashlight would be useful for needing to look in small tight spaces and the magnetic ability will make it easy to store nearby your work space yet out of the way.  This flashlight is only $9.97!

I found this great Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle for the great outdoors loving man in your life.  It is small and compact and perfect for taking on backpacking or hiking trips.  I also think this would be a great gadget to have around the house for emergency preparedness.  It is currently $7.99!

Survival Spark Magnesium Survival Fire Starter with Compass and Whistle

I seriously love anything that is multi purpose!  This Leather iphone Case does just that.  It will hold your cards,, it protects your phone, it’s slim, it’s masculine.  AND, it’s only $9.99.

Does the man in your life love to grill???  He might enjoy this meat thermometer.  It has lots of fantastic reviews and is digital so will be very easy to read.  I also love that it is foldable, which is so handy for storage!  The Sesame colored version is only $6.99!

This Working Hands Cream is fantastic for smoothing out rough cracked hands.  With over 8,000 positive reviews, it obviously works as advertised!  It is a great price for this type of product at $6.49.

Men love their tools!  (amiright???)  This MultiTool is the perfect way for them to carry all the tools at once!  The all in one tool includes pliers, screwdriver, cutter and more!  It is only $9.99!

 

-For the active man a Insulated Stainless Steel Water Bottle would be great gift.  These water bottles have a lot of different colors to choose from and a great sleek design.  A few of the colors are $10.49, but half of them are $9.99!

The newest Dan Brown novel, Origin is another excellent novel following the popular Robert Langdon as he makes new historical discoveries.  The paperback can be bought for $7.48.

This Magnetic Stud Finder is amazing!  It has strong magnets, making it hands free!  This is something everyone could use in their home.  It is just $7.59.

CH Hanson 03040 Magnetic Stud Finder

For some reason my husband can’t have enough work gloves!  He goes through them so quick.  These are a good quality and a great price.  They are just $9.63.

I hope you have fun shopping for that special someone AND being able to stay in budget!

Check out my post all about 10 Valentine Gifts for Her under $10.

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You might also like my other gift guides:

Christmas Gift Ideas for Teen Girls under $25

25 Gift Ideas for Tween Girls; all under $25!

25 Gift Ideas for 5-7 year old boys under $25

Parenting · Recipes

My favorite easy Homemade Pizza Crust Recipe

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One of my families favorite traditions is Friday Night Pizza and Family Movie Night.  I started making homemade pizza instead of ordering take out.  It has been such a good change.  It saves us a lot of money not having to pay for take out.  It also tastes so so so much better than any of your regular pizza chain.  ANNNNDDD it’s healthier.  So basically a win all around in my book.  I wanted to share with you my favorite pizza crust recipe I have found.  I hope your family will love it as much as mine.

 

Sweet Frugal Life

Homemade Pizza Crust

2 ¼ tsp yeast

1 cup warm water (baby bath temp)

2 TBSP olive oil

1 tsp salt

2 ¼  cups flour

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

In mixer lightly mix water and yeast together.  Let sit for 5-10 minutes until it becomes frothy.

Add the oil, salt, sugar and flour to the yeast mixture.  Mix well.  You may need a little less or little more flour.  You want the dough to bounce back if you poke it.  I also usually keep the dough slightly sticky.

Put dough into greased bowl and cover with a dishcloth.  Let rise for 30-60 minutes until doubled.  I will usually put it next to the flour or in the sun to speed up the rising process.

Place dough on lightly floured surface.  Roll out into a pizza shape.  (If you don’t have a pizza pan, just use a cookie sheet.  It works great!)  Place on greased pan.  Poke all over with a fork.  Cover with your favorite toppings.

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Bake for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and crust is golden brown.

Enjoy!

Bargain Buys · Frugal Life · Good Ideas

How to save money when you shop at Walmart

I haven’t always been the biggest fan of Walmart.  Sure, I’ve shopped their regularly like all the rest of Americans, but it wasn’t ever my favorite go-to shopping place.  That is until I discovered TWO fabulous money saving tricks to Walmart shopping.

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1.  The first money saving trick I have found at Walmart is to use Savings Catcher. It is such a simple and easy way to earn a little extra cash (we could all use a little extra cash, right?!?!).  Just shop using your normal shopping list buying the items you need to buy for that day. After you are done shopping scan your receipt into the savings catcher app. Walmart will automatically search competitors ads. If they find any lower prices then the items you bought they will refund you the difference onto a gift card. It is so easy and hardly takes any extra time at all. All you need is the Walmart app on your phone. You can find the savings catcher in the services section.

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It is so so very easy.

2.  The second great way to save money at Walmart is through the grocery pickup program. I am obsessed with this program. Seriously. I had pretty low expectations before I started but they far exceeded my expectations.   When I order my groceries through the pick up program I stay in my grocery budget so much easier. If I notice my cart total go over my weekly grocery budget amount I simply edit my cart some more and delete a few items to stay in the budget.  It has also helped me to not impulse shop!  Ever since I have started using Walmart grocery pickup I have been able to stay in budget every single week. Hooray!!!  The best part about this service is it is completely FREE!!!!  And I have been told they are not allowed to accept tips, even though I think they totally deserve them. When you go to pick up your groceries you park in the designated parking spot, let them know through the app that you are there. Then the nicest employees bring out your groceries, load them into your car and wishes you are wonderful day. I love it!!!  If you want to give it a try Walmart will give you $10 off your first pickup if you sign up through my link. —->

Enjoy $10 off your first order from Walmart Grocery.
http://r.wmt.co/hzJ9E

Walmart Grocery Pickup has surprised me a few times with with goody bags full of samples and last week they handed me two coupons for my next two purchases.  It’s so great!

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There you have it, the two reasons why I have turned into a devoted Walmart shopper. Happy Frugal shopping friends!!!!

Good Ideas · Recipes

Quick and Easy Overnight Oatmeal

Getting my three kids ready for school in the morning is no easy task.  The mornings are always hectic and I am always on the search for ways to make it smoother and easier.   I was so happy a few years ago when I learned how to make overnight oats.  Not only is it EASY (check), and QUICK (check), it is also HEALTHY and BUDGET FRIENDLY (check and check!).  I will make a dozen or so of these every Monday and keep them in the fridge handy for quick breakfasts throughout the week.  The best part of overnight oats is that they are so easy to customize anyway your kiddos would like them best.

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I always make these in mason jars I have on hand in the house.  First, I add one cup of oatmeal.

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Now add one cup of milk.  I have done almond milk, regular cows milk, and water.  They have all turned out great!  I have heard of some people using yogurt.  Try what works best for you.

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Now comes the fun customizing part.  Add 1 Tablespoon of sweetener.  I have used honey, syrup, white sugar and brown sugar.  I prefer brown sugar, but all of them have turned out tasty.  I also add about a handful of fruit.  Our favorites are frozen blueberries or raspberries.  We have  tried diced apples and canned peaches as well.  Mix it up and try different combos to keep it interesting.

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Now put the lid back on the mason jar.  Shake it up real good.

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After you finish shaking put the jar in the refrigerator.  It will need to sit in there for at least 10 hours.  These will keep in the fridge for a few days.  I make a bunch of jars up on Monday and use them throughout the week.

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I hope you love these Quick and Easy Overnight Oats as much as we do!

For the kids · Frugal Life · Good Ideas · Parenting

How we begin saving in January to be Secret Santa in December.

Ahhhh January.  The month of new beginnings.  Fresh starts.  Resolution’s and goals.  A month where we clear out the clutter in our life, figuratively and literally, and decide what we can do to make our life a little better than it was before.

Which brings me to December.  The month of giving and sharing.  Where we try to focus more on others than ourselves and look for those who may be in need of charity and service. My family has a favorite family tradition in December.  We choose a family in need.  Either from the neighborhood, a local giving tree, or any other we may hear about who is down on their luck.  We then play the part of Secret Santa.  We go to the store, buy the gifts on this families want and need list.  We wrap the presents up in beautiful wrappings and bows and secretly deliver them to where they need to go.  We look forward to this tradition every year.  I love teaching my kids to serve others.  I love that through service they are humbled and learn how lucky (maybe even a little spoiled!) they are in comparison to others.  And I love the thought of bringing a smile to someones face come Christmas morning.  Did I mention I LOVE this tradition!?!

December also just so happens to be the month that is hard for us (maybe you too???) to stick to our monthly budget.  We try to plan ahead for it.  We try to cut down costs.  But, we still found ourselves struggling to afford all the fun festive activities and gift giving we wanted to participate in. As we discussed what we would cut out I refused to limit our Secret Santa tradition.

And so we came up with the beautiful idea of The Giving Jar.  I grabbed an old junky used mason jar from our basement, cut a small hole in the top and named it The Giving Jar.

As the fresh new month of January begins, our Giving Jar sits empty.  As the year goes on we as a family puts every single coin we receive into the jar. And when December comes a long our jar is full.  This is the money we use for our Secret Santa tradition.

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I love that old junky mason jar.  I love watching it fill up throughout the year.  I love when one of my kids tries to stuff some newly earned dollar bills inside.  And I love watching my kids as they proudly carry it into the store as we purchase gifts for others.

It’s pretty cool how something old and used could become something so beautiful and special and can do so much good for others…..including me.